Martha Marcy May Marlene

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Martha Marcy May Marlene
Martha Marcy May Marlene.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Sean Durkin
Produced by Antonio Campos
Patrick S. Cunningham
Josh Mond
Written by Sean Durkin
Starring Elizabeth Olsen
John Hawkes
Sarah Paulson
Hugh Dancy
Music by Daniel Bensi
Saunder Jurriaans
Cinematography Jody Lee Lipes
Edited by Zachary Stuart-Pontier
Production
company
This Is That
Borderline Films
Distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release date
  • January 21, 2011 (2011-01-21) (Sundance)
  • October 21, 2011 (2011-10-21) (United States: limited)
Running time
102 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1 million[2]
Box office $5.4 million[3]

Martha Marcy May Marlene is a 2011 American thriller drama film written and directed by Sean Durkin, and starring Elizabeth Olsen, John Hawkes, Sarah Paulson, and Hugh Dancy. The plot focuses on a young woman suffering from delusions and paranoia after returning to her family from an abusive cult in the Catskill Mountains. The film contains several references to the music of Jackson C. Frank.

Plot[edit]

Martha escapes from an abusive cult in the Catskill mountains to a nearby town. In a diner, she is confronted by a cult member who attempts to convince her to return, but she refuses. Martha calls her sister, Lucy. Lucy picks up Martha and takes Martha to the vacation lake house in Connecticut that she shares with her husband Ted.

In a flashback Martha meets the cult leader Patrick for the first time. Patrick christens her Marcy May and welcomes her to the cult.

Martha meets Ted and begins exhibiting strange behavior: swimming in a public lake naked, sleeping all the time, not eating, and arguing with her sister and brother-in-law about how to live. Lucy reveals she abandoned Martha and is now attempting to get her back into her life. Lucy is also trying to have a baby.

In another flashback Martha is seen integrating into cult life and one night wakes up to being raped by Patrick. Patrick convinces Martha that she needs to share herself and be more open with others.

Martha attempts to join Ted and Lucy in bed, but Ted reacts angrily. Martha tells Ted he values the wrong things and Ted calls Martha a freeloader. That night she attempts to contact the cult but is greeted by a girl named Marlene Miller. Martha loses her nerve and hangs up.

In a flashback at the cult, Martha helps a girl named Sally integrate into the cult. She helps Patrick drug and rape Sally, as had been done to her. Patrick attempts to get Martha to kill a cat as well as another cult member, but Martha refuses. She begins participating in the cult's burglaries.

Lucy and Ted host a party. Martha has a psychotic episode when she recognizes one of the bartenders as a cult member and has to be sedated. Ted attempts to convince Lucy to send Martha to a mental institution, an idea Lucy rejects.

In a flashback, Martha watches Patrick and Sally talk intimately. Martha goes on a burglary with the cult that culminates in the stabbing of a man who discovers them, to Martha's shock and horror. Martha has a breakdown in the house. Patrick forcefully subdues her and berates her for her failing to follow the cult's ideals.

In the final scenes, Martha has a nightmare and a panic attack. Ted tries to help her, but Martha kicks him down the stairs. Lucy threatens to send Martha to a mental institution to which Martha angrily responds that Lucy will be a terrible mother. The next day Lucy and Martha reconcile somewhat and Martha goes swimming. She sees a cult member watching her and leaves the water. When the three leave the house, the cult member is seen following their car while Martha says nothing.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Sean Durkin started writing script of Martha Marcy May Marlene in 2007.[4] When researching his script, Durkin read about what he calls "the big ones" of cults: Jonestown, the Manson family, the Unification Church of the United States and David Koresh. He realised he wanted to make something more experiential than political and downplayed the ideology and goals of the cult.[5]

While researching, Durkin became fascinated by how someone gets into the farm or commune or group, and made a short film of the name Mary Last Seen about it starring Brady Corbet, who plays cult recruiter Watts in both the short and feature films. Mary Last Seen won the award for best short film at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival Directors' Fortnight. While Mary Last Seen was about how someone gets into the cult, Martha Marcy May Marlene was about what happens to someone when they get out of it. Durkin made the short to show the world Martha was in, and also with the intent to send it out with the script for Martha Marcy May Marlene to potential investors.[6] Mary Last Seen was selected for the Sundance Film Festival, and Durkin was given a distribution deal with Fox Searchlight.[7]

Durkin and DP Jody Lee Lipes were inspired by the films Rosemary's Baby, 3 Women, Klute, Interiors, and Margot at the Wedding. The look of the film was particularly inspired by the latter film.[8]

Release[edit]

Martha Marcy May Marlene premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival in January,[9] with Durkin winning the festival's U.S. Directing Award for Best Drama.[10] It also screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival[11][12] and at the 36th Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, 2011.[13] The film received a limited release in the United States on October 21, 2011.

In its opening weekend in limited release, Martha Marcy May Marlene grossed $137,651 in the United States.[14] 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released Martha Marcy May Marlene on DVD and Blu-ray on February 21, 2012.[15]

Reception[edit]

The film received highly positive reviews, while Olsen's performance as the traumatized Martha met with critical acclaim; the film holds a 90% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus capsule stating, "Led by a mesmerizing debut performance from Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene is a distinctive, haunting psychological drama."[16] On Metacritic the film has a 76 out of 100 "Metascore".[17] Christy Lemire of the Associated Press named Martha Marcy May Marlene the best film of 2011.[18] Roger Ebert gave the film three-and-a-half out of four stars, describing Olsen as "a genuine discovery ... She has a wide range of emotions to deal with here, and in her first major role, she seems instinctively to know how to do that." Ebert's only major complaint was that the movie's chronological shifts were "a shade too clever. In a serious film, there is no payoff for trickery."[19]

Accolades[edit]

Awards
Award Category Recipient(s) Outcome
Alliance of Women Film Journalists[20] Best Breakthrough Performance Elizabeth Olsen Won
Best Supporting Actor John Hawkes Nominated
Austin Film Critics Association Best Film Nominated
Boston Society of Film Critics Awards Best New Filmmaker Sean Durkin Won
Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards Best Actress Elizabeth Olsen Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Most Promising Filmmaker Sean Durkin Won
Most Promising Performer Elizabeth Olsen Won
Best Actress Elizabeth Olsen Nominated
Best Screenplay, Original Sean Durkin Nominated
Detroit Film Critics Society Breakthrough Performance Elizabeth Olsen Nominated
Florida Film Critics Circle Awards Pauline Kael Breakout Award Elizabeth Olsen Won
Ghent International Film Festival Special Mention Elizabeth Olsen Won
Grand Prix (Best Film) Sean Durkin Nominated
Gotham Awards Best Ensemble Cast Elizabeth Olsen, John Hawkes, Sarah Paulson, Hugh Dancy, Louisa Krause, Julia Garner, Brady Corbet, Maria Dizzia, Christopher Abbott Nominated
Breakthrough Actress Award Elizabeth Olsen Nominated
Breakthrough Director Award Sean Durkin Nominated
Independent Spirit Awards Best Female Lead Elizabeth Olsen Nominated
Best First Feature Antonio Campos (producer), Sean Durkin (director), Patrick Cunningham (producer), Josh Mond (producer), Chris Maybach (producer) Nominated
Best Supporting Male John Hawkes Nominated
Producers Award Josh Mond Nominated
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards New Generation Award Sean Durkin, Antonio Campos, Josh Mond, Elizabeth Olsen Won
Online Film Critics Society Awards Best Editing Zachary Stuart-Pontier Nominated
Best Lead Actress Elizabeth Olsen Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Sean Durkin Nominated
Best Supporting Actor John Hawkes Nominated
San Diego Film Critics Society Awards Best Actress Elizabeth Olsen Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Actress in a Motion Picture Elizabeth Olsen Nominated
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Awards Best Actress Elizabeth Olsen Nominated
Best Supporting Actor John Hawkes Nominated
Sundance Film Festival Directing Award (Dramatic) Sean Durkin Won
Grand Jury Prize (Dramatic) Sean Durkin Nominated
Toronto Film Critics Association Awards Best Actress Elizabeth Olsen Nominated
Best First Feature Sean Durkin Nominated
Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award Best Actress Elizabeth Olsen Won
Village Voice Film Poll Best Actress Elizabeth Olsen Nominated
Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Awards Best Actress Elizabeth Olsen Nominated
Best Supporting Actor John Hawkes Nominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Martha Marcy May Marlene (15)". British Board of Film Classification. June 22, 2011. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Martha Marcy May Marlene". The Numbers. Retrieved January 15, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Martha Marcy May Marlene". The Numbers. Retrieved January 15, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Interview: Sean Durkin on confronting his fears in 'Martha Marcy May Marlene'". 
  5. ^ "Interview". 
  6. ^ "Interview : Hitflix". 
  7. ^ "Interview with cast & crew". 
  8. ^ "Trust Issues". 
  9. ^ "2011 Sundance Film Festival Announces Films in Competition". Sundance.org. December 1, 2010. Archived from the original on February 2, 2011. Retrieved January 21, 2011. 
  10. ^ Guerrasio, Jason (May 15, 2011). "Sean Durkin". Screen Daily. Archived from the original on August 10, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Official Selection". Cannes Film Festival official site. Archived from the original on May 15, 2011. Retrieved April 16, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Cannes film festival 2011: The full lineup". The Guardian. London. April 14, 2011. Retrieved April 16, 2011. 
  13. ^ Lambert, Christine (2011), "Martha Marcy May Marlene premiere photos – 36th Toronto International Film Festival", DigitalHit.com, retrieved January 4, 2012 
  14. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for October 21–23, 2011". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. October 24, 2011. Retrieved October 25, 2011. 
  15. ^ Whitman, Howard. "Blu-ray Review: Martha Marcy May Marlene". Technologytell. www.technologytell.com. Retrieved March 23, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Martha Marcy May Marlene". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 15, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Martha Marcy May Marlene". Metacritic. Retrieved January 15, 2014. 
  18. ^ "AP movie critic Christy Lemire's top 10 films of 2011". December 27, 2011. Retrieved February 13, 2013. 
  19. ^ "Martha Marcy May Marlene". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved January 15, 2014. 
  20. ^ "2011 EDA Awards Winners". awfj.org. Retrieved January 12, 2012. 

External links[edit]